Around the Yard: Tim O'Brien

Returning to for a fourth season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Tim O'Brien
October 4, 2017

     The most popular advice I hear from graduating seniors, alumni, professors, and elders in general is to take advantage of the opportunities presented in front of you. It can be overwhelming at times with the constant feed of new emails and event flyers, but you never know what you can find after taking that first step in exploring a new opportunity. One step forward, and you will be presented with five new options. Step by step I started to find what classes and clubs I enjoyed the most. Now, I am starting my junior year and am more excited than ever to get into both the football season and my coursework of electrical engineering and Swedish language.

     One class I am thoroughly enjoying this year is Engineering Science: 276, Intro to MicroElectricalMechanical Systems. This graduate level course, open to undergraduate students, introduces the common micro-fabrication techniques used by major industries today. The class consists of four total students, allowing for an ideal, hands on learning environment with the professor Dr. Peter Stark. However, my favorite aspect of the course is the opportunity to work in Harvard’s Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) laboratories. CNS grants our class full access to their class 100, state-of-the-art clean room facilities in which we can work with their leading-edge equipment capable of electron-beam and optical lithography, physical and chemical vapor deposition, dry and wet processing, metrology, and device characterization. I plan on taking similar courses in nanofabrication with this professor next semester so that I can apply what I learned here to my thesis work my senior year, and possibly a future career path.

     The other aspect of my degree from Harvard will be a citation in Swedish Language. Most people assume I have Swedish heritage because of this, but no, Swedish was just a happy accident class that I found freshman year and never wanted to stop taking. I found the culture intriguing and genuine, which made learning the language with Professor Agnes Broomé a blast every day. To cement my knowledge of the language, I spent six weeks living in Uppsala, Sweden this past summer. I took 28 hours of language classes a week, but on the weekends, I traveled around Scandinavia with the new friends that I met in the program. In this time, I took a boat across the Baltic sea, climbed mountains in the arctic circle, and ate lunch in the gardens of Stockholm.  

     I think I speak for the undergraduate population at Harvard when I say opportunities at Harvard are endless. From languages to engineering, classes and clubs will hit every subject you can think of. As a student, it is easy to feel like you are missing out on the exciting things on campus, but taking a systematical approach of one thing at a time has helped me sift through to find my favorites. Step by step, day by day, I am forming and reforming my passions and identity at Harvard, knowing this will extend past college into opportunities I find beyond.